RUNWAY: The New Brioni is Here

The new Brioni is here. As of this past week and with Monday’s runway show in mind, the 71-year old Roman tailoring label, under the creative direction of Justin O’Shea since his appointment in April, has taken on a whole new look. While the former MyTheresa buyer-turned-creative director lacks any sort of design training, he has a strong and identifiable look, with his metalhead beard, tattoos and penchant for sharp, buttoned-up suits and very clear Eastern European flair. Not surprisingly (O’Shea was, after all, hired, at least, in part as a figurehead for the brand), the latter elements took to the runway for the house’s Spring/Summer 2017 show on Monday.

The collection is quite a break from tradition for Brioni. Per the New York Times, Brioni’s “bread and butter is suiting — 95 percent of Brioni’s sales are in clothing, said its chief executive, Gianluca Flore — of the ultra-expensive and timeless variety. They begin at $4,900 off the rack, and have been worn by heads of state, potentates of industry and celebrities, real and fictional. (James Bond has worn Brioni, and though the company declines to comment on its customers, so has Donald J. Trump.)” And while many critics have been quick to suggest that the garments will change during O’Shea’s tenure, that seems to be quite far from the case. The Eastern Promises-inspired wares are a bit of a far cry from the brand’s traditional suiting and its larger theme of long-evolved formalism. Consider the move towards womenswear, as well, which is available only as custom made.

Moreover, few Brioni collections to date were likely geared primarily towards “gangsters.” Speaking of the collection, O’Shea said on Monday: “It’s very gangster to wear a silk shirt. That’s the kind of guy I want to appeal to.” He also spoke to his “goal” for the brand: “It’s our goal to make our current customer feel even more special,” he said, adding that about 40 percent of the seats at the couture show would go to clients. “Those customers are already speaking this language; we didn’t.” As for whether that was achieved by way of his own personal style-heavy collection is up for debate.